Denmark expected to change Covid-19 isolation rules

The Danish Health Authority said on Thursday that it plans to change rules for self-isolation in relation to Covid-19.

Denmark's health authorities expect to change the countrry's Covdi-19 self-isolation rules in the near future--
Denmark's health authorities expect to change the countrry's Covdi-19 self-isolation rules in the near future-- File photo:Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The health authority issued a written statement on Thursday in which it signalled forthcoming changes to the rules.

“The Danish Health Authority is currently reviewing the recommendations for isolation in expectation of a change to the recommendations in the near future,” it wrote.

The health authority stated it will make an announcement of the changes “in the near future”.

Specific details of how guidelines will change were not given.

Under current guidelines, people who have tested positive for Covid-19 can leave isolation seven days after their positive test if they do not have symptoms.

If they have symptoms, they must wait until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours before leaving isolation.

The month from December 19th last year until Wednesday January 19th saw 617,913 cases of Covid-19 registered in Denmark. That corresponds to over 10 percent of the population.

In addition to the positive tests, many more people have been required to isolate due to being close contacts to the confirmed cases.

Business organisations and conservative political parties have called for isolation periods to be reduced due to the impact on companies of high staff absences caused by sickness and isolation.

People defined as close contacts to those who have tested positive must isolate under current rules.

Close contacts are people who live together or have spent a night under the same roof.

That represents a less stringent form of earlier rules, under which close contacts could also come from different households.

For example, children and staff in the same school class or kindergarten are now not considered close contacts but “other contacts” (øvrige kontakter), meaning they do not have to isolate but must be aware of possible Covid-19 symptoms and take a test on days one and four and after the potential contact.

In comments to news wire Ritzau, the Danish Chamber of Commerce (Dansk Erhverv) said that shortening the self-isolation period from seven to five days could cut Covid-related staff shortages at businesses by up to five percent.

A reduction of the isolation period to five days would be a reasonable amendment to guidelines, professor of infectious diseases at Aarhus University Eskild Petersen told Ritzau.

For children, the isolation could be shorter still, he also said.

“If (children) have been home from school for three days, have a negative test in the evening and again in the morning, then they can probably be sent to school just as employees can go out to work after four to five days in isolation and with a negative rapid (antigen) test,” Petersen said.

“It has been shown that you do not shed a particularly large amount of virus if you have a negative antigen test. It’s not a 100 percent guarantee of course, but it’s a good guarantee that you’re not infectious,” he said.

READ ALSO: Danish study concludes ’36 percent’ lower risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation with Omicron variant

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Denmark’s autumn Covid-19 strategy to be presented ‘before summer’

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Monday that the government will soon present a strategy for managing Covid-19 should the virus resurge in Denmark next autumn and winter.

Denmark’s autumn Covid-19 strategy to be presented 'before summer'

Although everyday life in Denmark is now free of any signs of Covid-19 restrictions, a plan will be put in place to manage a potential increase in cases of the virus once colder months return, Frederiksen said during remarks in parliament.

During a speech given as part of the parliament’s closing session before its summer break, Frederiksen noted that the coronavirus still persists in other countries and that Denmark must therefore have its own plan in place for future management of outbreaks.

“The government will therefore, before the summer (holiday), present a strategy for ongoing Covid management. We will discuss it with the other parties in parliament,” she said.

Frederiksen also said that Denmark was among the countries to have coped best with the pandemic.

“We are one of the countries that have had the lowest excess deaths. And one of the countries that has emerged best from the crisis economically. That is thanks to the efforts of each individual citizen in the country,” she said.

A new wave of Covid-19 cases later this year can be expected, according to a Danish medical expert.

“As things look now, we can reasonably hope that the thoroughly vaccinated population will be well protected against serious cases and that we will therefore see few hospitalisations,” Henrik Nielsen, senior medical consultant at Aalborg University’s infectious disease department, told news wire Ritzau.

“But the number of infections could very easily be high in the autumn and winter with a respiratory virus that gives a few days’ sickness. We expected serious cases to be limited in number,” he said.